Richard Samuel Roberts, one of the southís first black studio photographer, took thousand
of photographs in Columbia, South Carolinas Little Harlem during the 1920ís and early 30ís.
When he died, the glass plate negatives were stored under his house lost and forgotten for more
than 50 years.
Miraculously the old negatives were finally found and have since been meticulously
restored. They are currently preserved at The South Carolinia Library.
Selections from the collection toured museums around the country for nearly five years under the sponsorship of the Columbia Museum of Art. But the photographs have never been
available as art until now.
A Select group of the photographs are now offered by America. Oh, Yes!, dealers in American folk art with galleries in Washington, DC and on Hilton Head Island, SC.
The photographs created a sensation when introduced recently at COLOR: The Chicago Black Fine Art Exposition hosted by Oprah Winfrey. Winfrey was the first buyer of a portfolio.
Joe Adams, Director of America. Oh, Yes! and a long-time collector of old photographs,says early photographs of blacks are extremely rare principally because photography was a medium of well-to-to people.
Even well-to-do people didnít own cameras in the early days of photography. But they were eager to go to photography studios; have photographs taken. Images were created, often as postcards, so people could exchange photographs, Adams explained. But itís fairly rare to see a lot of photographs of blacks and especially in the south. Studios were set up in cities like New York, Detroit and Chicago where black families had migrated but itís difficult to find photographs
of blacks taken in southern cities. When photography did become available to black families, they were most interested in having their childrenís photos taken. And these old photographs make wonderful art today
A portfolio of childrens'í photographs are on display at America. Oh, Yes! in Washington DC from July 7th till August 31st and they may also be viewed on the galleryís web site at www.americaohyes.com.
According to Adams, the glass negatives for these photographs had to be converted digitally for the computer to make it possible to create enlargements for art photographs. Only 175 editions of the portfolio will be created and sold. Adams expects private collectors of photographic art and museums will purchase the editions.
More information about the photographs may be obtained by contacting America. Oh, Yes! P.O. Box 3075, Hilton Head Island, SC 29928 or by calling 843-785-2649.